We’ve watched as numerous Uber lawsuits have surfaced, where lines are blurred as to how workers are classified when they are part of an on demand mobile app. The summer brought yet another lawsuit over worker misclassification. GrubHub found itself in court when a former driver, Raef Lawson, used the company alleging that he was misclassified as a 1099 independent contractor when he should have been a W-2 employee. For its part, GrubHub is arguing that its primary service is connecting diners with restaurants, rather than food delivery, a service which began in 2015.
It’s a familiar tale with a potentially tense ending because the case of Lawson v. Grubhub is the first such misclassification suit to make it to trial.
The trial is taking place in a federal court in the Northern District of California. At the end of closing arguments on October 30, the federal judge adjudicating the case, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley, “gave hints she’s prepared to rule that a Grubhub driver should be treated like an employee,” according to The Recorder, an online source of legal news and analysis. Such a ruling could have significant implications for the gig economy.
In particular, it was reported that the judge was not impressed by Grubhub’s argument that delivery services is not a core part of its restaurant marketing business.
The waiting game continues. Stay tuned for updates.